If you’re about to start a new renovation project, you probably have a lot of questions you would like to ask your contractor but might not feel comfortable asking yet. Like any relationship, you want to ensure you and your contractor are getting what you both need out of it, and ideally, you’re both happy at the end of the day.

We spoke with Gordon from Swift Renos Inc. and Aaron of Future Perfect Construction to ask them the questions you might not be ready to ask yet and find out the best things you can do to keep your contractor happy.

Image courtesy of Andrus Williams

How should I prepare my home before the crew arrives?

Gordon says no special preparation is needed, but it’s a good idea to move any furniture that might obstruct the crew. Don’t worry about picking up, contractors won’t mind the usual household mess as long as they can easily get to the area they’re working in.

Aaron points out that your contract should state that the crew working in the home will use drop cloths and protection materials. He also recommends removing items you don’t want to be damaged, just in case an accident happens. That means you should probably move anything breakable or family heirlooms into a room that isn’t being worked on.

Should I be home during the job or will I get in the way?

The short answer is that it depends on the size and scale of the renovation or project. Aaron and Gordon agree that if it’s a substantial reno then it’s always best that the house is free of people and pets. You definitely don’t want to be hanging out while walls are being torn down.

Aaron adds that there are times when the water or electricity may need to be shut off so access to lights and bathrooms may be limited. That being said, as long as the site is safe and nothing is interfering with the project, there is usually no preference. For homeowners who may be on shift work, providing a schedule for the contractor would be helpful.

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What should I do with my pets during the renovation?

You definitely want to make sure your pets are out of the way during any kind of home renovation. Gordon points out that the crew will most likely be using power tools and these are not safe for animals to be around. Another thing to think about is that some members of the crew might be allergic to your pets or even be afraid of them. For the safety of everyone, keep your pets in a room that isn’t being worked on or take them with you when you leave for the day.

Aaron suggests that if you have a regular dog walker that comes to the house to get your pet, make sure that schedule is relayed to the crew so they know to expect someone and can plan their work schedule accordingly.

How often can I ask for updates before it becomes annoying?

Gordon: We typically ask homeowners to come to every stage of the project just to make sure everything is placed properly how they wanted, even more so if there are any special requests. The bigger the project, the more involved you will be. For major renovations, we usually update on a 3-4 week basis, and on smaller ones every couple of days. The best way is to call and set up a site visit.

Aaron: We use a project management app that the homeowner can download. It allows them to access everything including scheduling, financials, change orders and communication with the crews. During the project, it is best to have scheduled walk-throughs at specific milestones. It is always ok to ask questions throughout the renovation, but it should be noted that unfinished work is exactly that — unfinished.

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What can I do to make the crew feel comfortable? Should I offer them snacks and drinks?

Aaron and Gordon agree that no special treatment is necessary, but being friendly and polite is always appreciated. Treat the crew like you would treat house guests. Welcome them in and show them around, but ultimately let them get down to work.

When it comes to snacks and drinks, while they’re very much appreciated they are not necessary. While most of the crew will bring their own lunch or pick something up, coffee is always accepted with pleasure! While you might think offering a beer is an especially nice treat, they will not be accepted.

Is there anything else I can do to make the job easier for the crew?

Gordon reminds us that every change made during the project will cause more time and/or money. “We currently have a project which had completed drywall and then homeowner changed his mind he wanted to place pot lights, so we had to take down drywall and redo entire ceiling. That kind of things always takes time and costs more at the end.”

Aaron recommends preparing a wish list of renovation requirements. Having something on paper makes it easier to talk about specific items during the initial site visit. Where possible, it is good to have a sketch or set of official drawings. Even just some photos from the internet can help with the project vision.

Now that you have a better idea of what you can do to keep your contractor happy, you can breathe a sigh of relief and focus on the actual project. If you have more questions you’d like to ask a contractor, reach out to us online and let us know what you want to know! HomeStars is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Posted by Jessica Greaves